Thomas L. Friedman | Did We Miss Biden’s Most Important Remark About Russia? – The New York Times

“Pretty much every crucial line in President Biden’s recent marathon news conference has been dissected by now — except one, the one that may turn out to be the most prescient. You had to be listening closely because it went by fast. It was when Biden told President Vladimir Putin that Russia has something much more important to worry about than whether Ukraine looks East or West — namely, “a burning tundra that will not freeze again naturally.”

My translation: Yo, Vladimir, while you’ve been busy putting your “little green men” into Ukraine — all those masked Russian soldiers in green uniforms without insignia — little green shoots have been popping up in your warming tundra. Siberia had a totally freakish, hyper-extreme weather event — a forest fire that firefighters had to stomp out with their boots because the local water sources were all frozen.

I’m pretty sure this was the first time a U.S. president ever tried to persuade a Russian leader to get out of his neighbor’s front yard and focus instead on saving his own backyard — because as Siberia is affected by climate change, it will threaten Russia’s stability a lot more than anything that happens in Ukraine.”

DL: The tundra in Russia is one of the most dangerous feedback loops challenging Russia and the planet. If the US were not so divided itself, one might argue, we should go to war with Russia, for regime change there, just to refocus the Russians on climate change. Nature will take care of this, as it will refocus their attention in the future.

Opinion | For the Climate, Biden Must Be More Aggressive in Ending New Truck and Bus Emissions – The New York Times

Margo Oge and 

“Ms. Oge is the chair of the International Council on Clean Transportation and was the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality from 1994 to 2012. Mr. Kodjak is the executive director of the I.C.C.T.

At a gathering on the White House lawn last August, President Biden spoke of a future in which electric cars and trucks will be the only vehicles on the road. “The question,” he said, “is whether we’ll lead or fall behind” in the global race to achieve that vision.

Mr. Biden has been vigorous in pushing for the end of the internal combustion engine for cars and light trucks. In August he signed an executive order that called on the federal government to do all it can to ensure that half of those vehicles sold in the United States are electric by 2030.

But when it comes to electrifying heavy trucks and buses, among the most polluting vehicles on the road, the country is in danger of falling behind the efforts of other nations. After the global climate summit in Glasgow last fall, 15 nations, including Canada and Britain, agreed to work together so that by 2040, all trucks and buses sold in those countries will be emission-free.

Missing from that group was the United States (and China and Germany, for that matter). Developing standards in the United States to make those vehicles electric is essential if the nation is to meet its global climate commitments. Heavy-duty trucks are responsible for nearly a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s transportation sector, itself the biggest contributor of those emissions in the economy. Clearly this segment of the transportation sector cannot be ignored.”

Thomas Friedman | Biden and Climate Change Have Reshaped the Middle East – The New York Times

“So, I just have one question: Should I point out how President Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan is already reshaping Middle East politics — mostly for the better? Or should I wait a few months and not take seriously yet what one Gulf diplomat drolly said to me of the recent festival of Arab-Arab and Arab-Iranian reconciliations: “Love is in the air.”

What the heck, let’s go for it now.

Because something is in the air that is powerfully resetting the pieces on the Middle East chess board — pieces that had been frozen in place for years. The biggest force shifting them was Biden’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan and tell the region: “You’re home alone. If you’re looking for us, we’ll be in the Straits of Taiwan. Write often. Send oil. Bye.”

But a second factor is intensifying the pressure of America’s leaving: Mother Nature, manifesting herself in heat waves, droughts, demographic stresses, long-term falling oil prices and rising Covid-19 cases.

Indeed, I’d argue that we are firmly in a transition from a Middle East shaped by great powers to a Middle East shaped by Mother Nature. And this shift will force every leader to focus more on building ecological resilience to gain legitimacy instead of gaining it through resistance to enemies near and far. We are just at the start of this paradigm shift from resistance to resilience, as this region starts to become too hot, too populated and too water-starved to sustain any quality of life.”

Opinion | The Bishops Are Wrong About Biden — and Abortion – The New York Times

Mr. Wills is the author of more than 50 books on Catholicism, the history of Christianity, and American history and politics.

“What is the worst crime a society can commit? Some people (I among them) would say the Holocaust, the cold methodical murder of six million people just for being Jews.

But some Catholics and evangelicals say they know of an even greater crime — the deliberate killing of untold millions of unborn babies by abortion. They have determined that a fetus is a person and abortion is therefore murder. This is a crime of such magnitude that some Catholic bishops are trying to deny the reception of Holy Communion by the president of the United States for not working to prevent it.

No one told Dante that this was the worst crime, or he would have put abortionists, not Judas, in the deepest frozen depths of his Inferno. But in fact he does not put abortionists anywhere in the eight fiery tiers above the deepest one of his Hell.”

Paul Krugman | Biden and the Future of the Family – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Like many progressives, I like the Biden administration’s plan to invest in infrastructure, but really love its plans to invest more in people. There’s a good case for doing more to improve physical assets like roads, water supplies and broadband networks. There’s an overwhelming case for doing more to help families with children.

To Republican politicians, however, the opposite is true. G.O.P. opposition to President Biden’s infrastructure plans has felt low-energy, mainly involving word games about the meaning of “infrastructure” and tired repetition of old slogans about big government and job-killing tax hikes. Attacks on the family plan have, though, been truly venomous; Republicans seem really upset about proposals to spend more on child care and education.

Which is not to say that the arguments they’ve been making are honest.

How do we know that we should be spending more on families? There is, it turns out, a lot of evidence that there are big returns to helping children and their parents — stronger evidence, if truth be told, than there is for high returns to improved physical infrastructure.

For example, researchers have looked into the long-term effects of the food stamp program, which was rolled out gradually across the country in the 1960s and 1970s. Children who had early access to food stamps, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth concluded, “grew up to be better educated and have healthier, longer and more productive lives.” Researchers have found similar effects for children whose families received access to the earned-income tax credit and Medicaid.

Jonathan Alter | Can Biden Be Our F.D.R.? – The New York Times

Mr. Alter is a journalist and the author of “The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope.”

Credit…Left, Popperfoto, via Getty Images; right, Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

” “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes,” Mark Twain (supposedly) said. If so, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. could be a couplet. With a few breaks and the skillful execution of what seems to be a smart legislative strategy, President Biden is poised to match F.D.R.’s stunning debut in office.

That doesn’t require Mr. Biden to transform the country before May 1, the end of his first 100 days, the handy if arbitrary marker that Mr. Roosevelt (to the irritation of his successors) laid down in 1933. But for America to “own the future,” as the president promised last month, he needs to do amid the pandemic what Mr. Roosevelt did amid the Depression: restore faith that the long-distrusted federal government can deliver rapid, tangible achievements.

With one of the biggest and fastest vaccination campaigns in the world and the signing of a $1.9 trillion dollar Covid relief package, the president has made a good start at that. His larger aim is to change the country by changing the terms of the debate.

Just as Mr. Roosevelt understood that the laissez-faire philosophy of the 1920s wasn’t working anymore to build the nation, Mr. Biden sees that Reagan-era market capitalism cannot alone rebuild it.” . . .

Biden Endorses Filibuster Rule Changes – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The fight over the Senate filibuster escalated sharply on Tuesday, as President Biden for the first time threw his weight behind changing the rules even as Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, threatened harsh reprisals if Democrats moved to weaken the procedural tactic.

In an interview with ABC News, Mr. Biden gave his most direct endorsement yet of overhauling the filibuster, saying that he favored a return to what is called the talking filibuster: the requirement that opponents of legislation occupy the floor and make their case against it.

“I don’t think that you have to eliminate the filibuster; you have to do it, what it used to be when I first got to the Senate back in the old days,” the president said. “You had to stand up and command the floor, and you had to keep talking.” The comments were a significant departure for Mr. Biden, a 36-year veteran of the Senate who has been frequently described by aides as reluctant to alter Senate procedure.

“It’s getting to the point where, you know, democracy is having a hard time functioning,” he added.”

Great reporting by Carl Hulse, followed by great comments. Enough with the namby pamby.

Where on earth did I get namby pamby, probably from my famously outspoken mother.

And it is real expression, says Wikipedia: ”

Namby-pamby is a term for affected, weak, and maudlin speech/verse. It originates from Namby Pamby (1725) by Henry Carey.

Carey wrote his poem as a satire of Ambrose Philips and published it in his Poems on Several Occasions. Its first publication was Namby Pamby: or, a panegyrick on the new versification address’d to A—– P—-, where the A– P– implicated Ambrose Philips. Philips had written a series of odes in a new prosody of seven-syllable lines and dedicated it to “all ages and characters, from Walpole steerer of the realm, to Miss Pulteney in the nursery.” This 3.5′ line became a matter of consternation for more conservative poets, and a matter of mirth for Carey. Carey adopts Philips’s choppy line-form for his parody and latches onto the dedication to nurseries to create an apparent nursery rhyme that is, in fact, a grand bit of nonsense and satire mixed.

Philips was a figure who had become politically active and was a darling of the Whig party. He was also a target of the Tory satirists. Alexander Pope had criticized Philips repeatedly (in The Guardian and in his Peri Bathos, among other places), and praising or condemning Philips was a political as much as poetic matter in the 1720s, with the nickname also employed by John Gay and Jonathan Swift.

The poem begins with a mock-epic opening (as had Pope’s Rape of the Lock and as had Dryden’s MacFlecknoe), calling all the muses to witness the glory of Philips’s prosodic reform:

“All ye Poets of the Age!
All ye Witlings of the Stage!
Learn your Jingles to reform!
Crop your Numbers and Conform:
Let your little Verses flow
Gently, Sweetly, Row by Row:
Let the Verse the Subject fit;
Little Subject, Little Wit.
Namby-Pamby is your Guide;
Albion’s Joy, Hibernia’s Pride.”

Biden, Champion of Middle Class, Comes to Aid the Poor – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — Days before his inauguration, President-elect Biden was eying a $1.3 trillion rescue plan aimed squarely at the middle class he has always championed, but pared down to attract some Republican support.

In a private conversation, Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who is now the majority leader, echoed others in the party and urged Mr. Biden to think bigger. True, the coronavirus pandemic had disrupted the lives of those in the middle, but it had also plunged millions of people into poverty. With Democrats in control, the new president should push for something closer to $2 trillion, Mr. Schumer told Mr. Biden.

On Friday, “Scranton Joe” Biden, whose five-decade political identity has been largely shaped by his appeal to union workers and blue-collar tradesmen like those from his Pennsylvania hometown, will sign into law a $1.9 trillion spending plan that includes the biggest antipoverty effort in a generation.

The new role as a crusader for the poor represents an evolution for Mr. Biden, who spent much of his 36 years in Congress concentrating on foreign policy, judicial fights, gun control and criminal justice issues by virtue of his committee chairmanships in the Senate. For the most part, he ceded domestic economic policy to others.”

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

I disagree with the suggestions in this news piece that Biden really moving to the left. I do agree with the paragraph that Biden just dealt with the emergency before him. I give Biden the benefit of the doubt. And how could he forget. Even us old dogs can learn from our mistakes, and Biden would have been a fool to repeat the mistake of Obama. I think Biden, possibly with encouragement from Schumer, was taking the advice of thought leaders and advisors like Paul Krugman, who has pointed out more than once that the .9 trillion package of Obama after the sub prime market melt down in 2007 was about half of what was needed. Those warnings proved over time to be true.

Now, if only Joe could take illegal immigration seriously, he might not sink his own ship.

Biden Seeks Help on Border From Mexican President – The New York Times

“. . .The Biden administration has also formed a task force to unite parents separated from their children under Mr. Trump’s family separations policy. Mr. Mayorkas said on Monday that Michelle Brané, the former director of migrant rights and justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, would lead the effort to unite the families, who could be provided the option to remain in the United States permanently. Mr. Mayorkas stopped short of promising the parents citizenship.

Republicans have already signaled that they intend to seize on Mr. Biden’s reversals of his predecessor’s immigration policies as a cornerstone in their efforts to take back Congress in 2022 and recapture the White House two years later.

In an echo of his successful 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump has already offered a road map for Republican candidates in 2022 by once again exaggerating the situation at the border and falsely stating that Mr. Biden’s approach is “to cancel border security.” . . .

David Lindsay: Excellent NYT article and comments.  If Biden doesn’t show he is against illegal immigration, like over half the country, he will lose the Senate, and possibly the White House and the House of Representatives. To stop illegal immigration by birth, we will have to modify the 14th Amendment, which says that if you are born here, you are a citizen, and was to protect black slaves in America from disenfranchisement after the Civil War.

Here are the most popular comments at the Times to date:


This is the one place I fear Trump could win again in 4 years if not handled decisively. We need to be firm yet compassionate in our approach. So much of it is a PR war; we can’t make it look like it’s open season for illegal immigration. Please Joe, don’t mess this up.

5 Replies60 Recommended
New York3h ago

As the Times reported yesterday, the mayor of Del Rio is begging the federal government to stop releasing migrants into his city without federal aid. He said the city is being forced to choose between helping the migrants and its own citizens. During the last surge, communities on Long Island with large immigrant populations saw hundreds of mostly teenage boys–many with little previous education and no English–suddenly added to their school systems. They struggled with a legal mandate to provide education. This struggle will be even greater during the pandemic. We can’t simply release thousands of migrants to struggling communities, however good the impulse.

Reply47 Recommended
New Jersey2h ago
Times Pick

I loathe Trump, but he was right in stopping illegal immigration.

2 Replies43 Recommended

Opinion | How Will Biden Deal With Republican Sabotage? – By Paul Krugman – The New York Times


Opinion Columnist

Credit…Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

“When Joe Biden is inaugurated, he will immediately be confronted with an unprecedented challenge — and I don’t mean the pandemic, although Covid-19 will almost surely be killing thousands of Americans every day. I mean, instead, that he’ll be the first modern U.S. president trying to govern in the face of an opposition that refuses to accept his legitimacy. And no, Democrats by and large were not claiming Donald Trump was illegitimate, just that he was incompetent and dangerous.

It goes without saying that Donald Trump, whose conspiracy theories are getting wilder and wilder, will never concede, and that millions of his followers will always believe — or at least say they believe — that the election was stolen.

Most Republicans in Congress certainly know this is a lie, although even on Capitol Hill there are a lot more crazy than we’d like to imagine. But it doesn’t matter; they still won’t accept that Biden has any legitimacy, even though he won the popular vote by a large margin.

And this won’t simply be because they fear a backlash from the base if they admit that Trump lost fair and square. At a fundamental level — and completely separate from the Trump factor — today’s G.O.P. doesn’t believe that Democrats ever have the right to govern, no matter how many votes they receive.”

“. . . . The good news about the very near future, such as it is, is that Americans will probably (and correctly) blame Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, for the misery they’re experiencing — and this very fact may make Republicans willing to cough up at least some money.

What about the post-vaccine economy? Here again there’s potentially some good news: Once a vaccine becomes widely available, we’ll probably see a spontaneous economic recovery, one that won’t depend on Republican cooperation. And there will also be a vast national sense of relief.

So Biden might do OK for a while even in the face of scorched-earth Republican opposition. But we can’t be sure of that. Republicans might refuse to confirm anyone for key economic positions. There’s always the possibility of another financial crisis — and outgoing Trump officials have been systematically undermining the incoming administration’s ability to deal with such a crisis if it happens. And America desperately needs action on issues from infrastructure, to climate change, to tax enforcement that won’t happen if Republicans retain blocking power.

So what can Biden do?

First, he needs to start talking about immediate policy actions to help ordinary Americans, if only to make it clear to Georgia voters how much damage will be done if they don’t elect Democrats to those two Senate seats.

If Democrats don’t get those seats, Biden will need to use executive action to accomplish as much as possible despite Republican obstruction — although I worry that the Trump-stacked Supreme Court will try to block him when he does.

Finally, although Biden is still talking in a comforting way about unity and reaching across the aisle, at some point he’ll need to stop reassuring us that he’s nothing like Trump and start making Republicans pay a political price for their attempts to prevent him from governing.

Now, I don’t mean that he should sound like Trump, demanding retribution against his enemies — although the Justice Department should be allowed to do its job and prosecute whatever Trump-era crimes it finds.

No, what Biden needs to do is what Harry Truman did in 1948, when he built political support by running against “do-nothing” Republicans. And he’ll have a better case than Truman ever did, because today’s Republicans are infinitely more corrupt and less patriotic than the Republicans Truman faced.

The results of this year’s election, with a solid Biden win but Republicans doing well down-ballot, tells us that American voters don’t fully understand what the modern G.O.P. is really about. Biden needs to get that point across, and make Republicans pay for the sabotage we all know is coming.”